Maccabi Pan America Games – Final Wrap

January 4, 2012 by David Weiner-Maccabi NSW
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The Maccabi Australian team is on its way home from Brazil after competing in the Pan America Games in Sao Paolo…David Weiner has sent his final report.

Australia’s contingent at the Pan America Games in Sao Paulo enjoyed an impressive week of sporting action, with Team Australia reaching at least the semi-finals in each sport contested.

Farewell Brazil

The Green and Gold’s small but spirited squad, one of 16 countries in Brazil for South America’s Jewish sporting competition, picked up three gold medals, nine silver medals and four bronze medals.

“We’d like to thank our hosts, Confederation of Latin American Maccabi, Maccabi Brazil and the Hebraica club for putting on a fantastic Maccabi sporting event,” Australia’s Head of Delegation Lisa Borowick said.

“Accommodation, sporting venues and transport were of a very high standard. The camaraderie of the Maccabi village will make this an experience our team members won’t forget in a hurry.

“From a sporting perspective, we performed above expectations, but more importantly, the Games provided our team with the opportunity to connect with Jews from all around the world. It also enabled some athletes to start their planning for Israel 2013.

“It’s also important to acknowledge that teams don’t get to such sporting events without the support and tireless efforts of many people behind the scenes who make this all possible, whether it is coaches, fundraisers, team administrators, medical staff, parents, families and friends.

“Maccabi Team Aus 2011 is indebted to all those quiet achievers.”


The Ehrlich family

Australia enjoyed plenty of success on the Brazilian clay courts, with Paul Ehrlich returning home with four medals. David Sofaer finished with silver after losing a compelling opens singles final in three tough sets against former Israeli professional Harel Sruger. Second seeded Sofaer took the opening set and played some eye-catching tennis in one of the week’s standout contests, but his highly fancied opponent raised the stakes in the third set to claim the gold. Ehrlich’s finals run began with a tough masters singles finals loss, but the morning’s disappointment did not deter Ehrlich and Sofaer from teaming up to claim gold in the opens doubles final. In an entertaining display, the Aussie pair had to save a match point and hold their nerve against a prickly Argentine duo to wrap up the win. Another to impress was 12-year-old Noah Ehrlich, who claimed a bronze medal in the junior boys field; Paul and wife Lauren won bronze in the masters mixed doubles and Paul’s haul finished with a silver in the mens masters doubles with his Argentine partner.


Harry Procel, Australia’s Head of Delegation to the 2013 Maccabiah Games in Israel, put down the administrative pad for a week to claim his first ever international Maccabi gold medal. Procel won the masters individual net competition by six strokes after four consistent rounds, while he also picked up a silver medal in the masters teams event.


Australia’s womens football team reached their goal of making the bronze medal play-off in Sao Paulo, but unfortunately lost 4-0 to Argentina on the final day of competition.
Under the guidance of Olympian and former Matildas player Tal Karp, and her assistant Mark Abro, the girls made giant strides compared to the team from Israel in 2009, and were competitive in each match.

The highlight came in their 3-0 win over Venezuela, which featured a double from Karp and a goal from Genia Avram, while the girls also served gold medallist Brazil a major fright, taking an early lead through Karp and forcing the home-side to scramble a late 3-1 victory in their pool match.


Masters swimmer Trevor Wainstein was Australia’s lone competitor in the swimming field, but claimed five silver medals and a gold during the three-day swimming competition. While the level of competition wasn’t overly strong in masters swimming, Wainstein points to an emotional relay swim as one of his highlights of the games. Wainstein, a cancer survivor, teamed up with a Mexican cancer survivor, a 75-year-old Venezuelan competitor and a Uruguayan swimmer to form a freestyle relay team with a combined age of 225 years. Although the quartet did not get a medal for the swim, they set a new Maccabi world benchmark for the 225-years and over age group, in an emotional swim.


Sam Parasol, a veteran of three Pan America Games and six Maccabiah Games, picked up two bronze medals in the table tennis competition.

Parasol opened his account with bronze in the teams event alongside a Canadian and American, before backing up with a bronze in the masters singles event the next day.


Australia’s colourful beach volleyball duo Arthur Bobrow and Danny Skrabal made it through to the semi-final stage of their event, before being pipped against Brazil in the bronze play-off.

The experienced duo, who also participated at previous Pan America Games in Chile and Buenos Aires, improved with every match during the week, culminating in a make-or-break win against an Israeli pair on the final morning of the competition, which earned them a spot in the semi-final.




“I can’t believe how fast two weeks can go. I’ve been involved in the planning for this team since March 2010! I think from a personal perspective, we’ve taken 46 people from different ages, states, different sports, and we’ve come together as one Australia team. From that point of view it’s been lovely watching that group dynamic evolve. I’m very appreciative of the opportunity to head up a team of so many wonderful people. It’s been tiring, but well worth the sacrifices that go into making it happen. I’m now looking forward to meeting my family on the Gold Coast, and then enjoying Junior Carnival in Brisbane before heading home. Then, in a blink of the eye, Harry and his team will be putting together our Maccabiah team for July 2013. Am Yisrael Chai!


“I’ve really enjoyed the experience, it’s been a huge learning curve in terms of learning the behind the scenes activities of running an international games. I’ve loved getting to know new people, loved learning about the different sports which I’ve never taken much interest in.”


“I had an amazing time; it was a great experience to be a part of the Aussie team in the process of being Aussie-fied. As a new comer to the Australian team, I truly hoped I added some value but I can honestly say that the management and the personnel responsible for bringing me on board were amazing.

I found my experience with coaching a girls team was enlightening. It had its challenges but it proved to be a great learning and growing experience as a coach.

I’d like to personally thank the management team of Lisa Borowick, Harry Procel, Sydney Kahn and Michelle Tremigliozzi.


“I actually think the standard here was so strong it was a better competition than at Maccabiah in 2009.

We had a great week, really enjoyed ourselves and the tennis team did everyone proud.”


“We wanted to connect our Jewish community through sport – Maccabi Australia’s byline – and we’ve more than achieved that through our football competition and social activities. We wanted to make the semi-finals, and we achieved that, and we earned our spot in a tough competition. And we were competitive in each game. We wanted to have fun, which of course we did. Winning a medal would have been an amazing bonus. The decision to come to the Pan America Games, really was worthwhile.”


“It was great to see some of the girls step up in the big games, particularly the younger ones. You could not doubt their effort and their performance can only be a good thing for the future.”



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